Do Cats Need to Wear a Collar?
In an ideal world, we would allow our precious felines to roam free and unfettered, no collar, no leash, no harness. Unfortunately, the world is less than ideal! While your cat might fight the collar, it is a necessity. Indoor cats might escape or wander off. And outdoor cats are already outside.
Collars Prepare Your Cat for Worst-Case Scenarios
Cats are generally quick and intelligent enough to avoid danger outdoors and will often return unharmed. All the same, safety is all about preparing for worst-case scenarios. And in those cases, you want your cat to be well identified, so they can be returned home to you, safe and sound.
A well-meaning person could find an uncollared cat wandering around and take them to an animal shelter, when they may already have a loving home. It is for this reason that microchipping your cat is also considered an essential part of proper cat parenting.
Microchipping Your Cat
Many cat parents know the risks of forgoing a cat collar, but still, opt to do so. Their confidence can probably be owed to microchipping, a way of permanently identifying your cat without a collar, and something that all cat parents should know about before adopting.
If you’re unfamiliar with this and other initial adoption procedures, no worries! We have compiled a three-part series to help you learn about the Cat Adoption process, starting with 'Cat Adoption Part 1: Why Adopt?'
‘How Much Does It Cost To Keep a Cat’ is also an excellent resource that will give you a realistic financial plan for responsible cat parenting.
How Does the Microchip Work?
All animal shelters will look for a microchip as a second step to returning animals to their humans. The first step? You guessed: the collar.
This tiny capsule, no larger than a grain of rice, is injected between your cat’s shoulders blades in a completely painless procedure. This unique identification is added to a comprehensive database with other registered pets.
This identifying chip can be read by a scanner. While we don’t love talking about cats as property, the microchip does technically guarantee that you are your cat’s owner if they are stolen.
Finding the Right Cat Collar
Cats love their freedom and we love that independent spirit. But it can make it difficult to read your cat’s comfort levels. Since a collar is ‘for their own good’, but irritating, it can be hard to tell whether your cat is genuinely uncomfortable or just being finicky. So although your cat is likely to scratch at the collar initially, they should acclimate to it in time.
Poor Fitting Cat Collars Are Dangerous
Before you can select the right collar for your cat, you need to take their measurements. A cat collar needs to fit just right, not too loose, not too snug. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit two fingers snugly between your cat’s neck and collar.
A too-tight collar is detrimental to your cat’s health. Too-tight collars can restrict their breathing, prevent them from swallowing food or water, and generally cause incredible pain or discomfort.
And a collar that is too loose can be just as dangerous. If your cat is jumping from a height and their collar has room to get caught on something, the result can be tragic. This information isn’t meant to alarm, just to emphasize the importance of proper fit.
Luckily, quality cat collars are made with these serious concerns in mind and offer adjustability, comfort, and break-away options.
How to Get the Right Measurements
When you measure the circumference of your cat’s neck, you are measuring the perfect collar. Using a soft tape measure makes this easy, but no need to worry if you only have the stiff, retractable kind.
Use a decent length of ribbon or string to simulate the ideal collar around your cat’s neck and measure that length. For more detailed information on how to do this, check out our article ‘How to Measure Your Cat’.
Getting Your Cat Collar-Comfortable
Once you have successfully selected a collar that fits your cat properly, it’s time to get them accustomed to wearing it. To make this process easier, be prepared to play with your cat once you’ve put the new collar on.
Offering them a distraction, like attention, cuddles, playing a game, or a treat can help them adjust sooner. If you have chosen a collar that is comfortable and fits right, then your cat should forget about it within a few distractions!
Breakaway Collars with Quick Release for Safety
As mentioned earlier, cat collars are designed to consider safety. Indeed, the safest options for adventurous outdoor cats are breakaway collars, like the Safety Breakaway Cat Collars with Quick Release.
You can rest assured that if your cat gets into a compromising situation, that their collar will not hold them in place. If the collar becomes caught on a branch or object, your cat’s resistance will cause the collar to ‘break away’ without hurting them.
Check the Cat Collar's Fit Regularly
Just as cat collars are designed for safety, they are also adjustable to accommodate changes in your cat’s weight and coat. In the winter, your cat’s coat might grow thicker, causing their neck circumference to grow.
Older cats will naturally grow smaller and thinner as they lose bone density and weight through natural aging. And of course, kittens grow like weeds and will need their collars to be constantly readjusted for safety and comfort.
American Humane (2019) “Choosing a cat collar,” American Humane, [online] Available from: https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/choosing-a-cat-collar/ (Accessed 17 August 2021).